Archive for September, 2011

Pack Cocaine

September 9, 2011

Thursday September 8th, 2011 – Kenosha, WI

After seven months of sobriety, and I’m sad to report I’m back on drugs and hopelessly hooked. My pusher has thirty-two varieties, one more than Baskin-Robbins. My pusher is the National Football League, and I’m addicted to the Green Bay Packers. I can’t kick it.

My addiction isn’t even the worst. At least mine paid off in February with a Super Bowl victory – the ultimate high. Addicts of the other thirty-one drugs don’t even get that. They have to quit cold turkey when one season ends, and suffer until the next season starts it up all over again. There are poor saps in towns like Cleveland and Detroit who are a mess.

They keep getting slapped around like trailer park wives, and I guess I feel their pain to a certain degree, but if it ever got in the way of my own addiction any and all sympathy is out the window. This is a cruel process, but it‘s a cruel planet. I didn‘t make these rules.

My drug of choice is the Packers, and I’ve been hooked going on forty years now. It’s a euphoric high when they win, and a crushing low when they don’t. I’ve tried every trick I can think of to kick the habit, but I just can’t do it. It shouldn’t be this powerful, but it is.

Tonight’s game was nothing short of orgasmic. They started out great, then had a bit of trouble, then won it at the end with no time remaining. They easily could have lost it after being ahead the whole game, and that’s what makes this addiction so cruel. I had nothing to do with any of it, but I was emotionally involved the whole time and it stressed me out.

I’m sure there were hundreds of thousands of New Orleans Saints addicts who felt their drug of choice was going to give them the high they craved, but it didn’t. It held all of our attention the entire evening, and I felt drained as I got in my car and drove home from my friend Mark Gumbinger’s house in Kenosha. He has a big screen TV and it’s a man cave.

Mark and his brother Mike and I sat in his basement and partook of our drug together as a group. Crack house, Pack house, what’s the difference at this point? We’ve all invested our entire lives hoping our green and gold knights would slay the opposing dragons every week. This week they did, but just barely. Next week, who knows? We’re at their mercy.

The NFL is a cruel master, and if I could quit I would. But I can’t. This season will be a series of ups and downs like all of them are, and I won’t be satisfied unless they return to the Super Bowl and win it again. Or will I? I loved watching them win the last one, but it doesn’t matter anymore. This is an entirely new season and we’re all addicted once again.

I sure wish I sold a product as solid as the one the NFL is selling. Nobody dresses up in elaborate costumes and paints their face to come see me perform. There aren’t websites to buy and sell tickets to my shows for over face value and/or analyze my every tiny move.

If Americans were as enthusiastic about America as we are about the NFL, we’d be way better off as a nation. I didn’t listen to what Mr. Obama said tonight, I was getting high.


Champ Change

September 9, 2011

Wednesday September 7th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

I’ve been keeping up with my diet and exercise plan, and I don’t think I could feel much better. I’ve made it a high level priority, and I’m learning to thoroughly enjoy not only the benefits, but the process as well. I thought I would loathe everything about it, but I don’t.

I find myself looking forward to my daily walks, as it gives me plenty of private time to process all kinds of ideas about a wide variety of topics without interruption. I’m learning to tune everything else out and get in a zone where I let my mind take over. I might get hit by a truck due to my lack of conscious attention, but at least I’ll go out making an effort.

There are several possible routes where I live, and I try to mix it up as much as possible to keep it interesting. I don’t necessarily measure distance, but I do try to stay out until my t-shirt is soaked with sweat, or my legs start feeling like cement pillars. Some days it feels like I could walk to Miami Beach, and others feel like I’m an old cocker who lives there.

Hearing about how good it feels to exercise and then actually feeling it are two different things entirely. I love the sensation of being exhausted, knowing I used up every single bit of spare energy I had to give. I limp through the door drenched, exhausted but satisfied.

It feels fantastic to freshen up with a fumigating shower and then throw on clean clothes and go to work on one of my projects. It took a while to develop the habit, but I’ve done it and don’t want to know what it feels like to fall out of it. In my mind, this is permanent.

Too bad reality isn’t always what’s in any of our minds. Reality is, nothing’s permanent except the fact there will be constant change. That’s it. Other than that, every day presents new circumstances for us to sort out and react to however we choose. I happen to be in an outstanding groove right now, but that doesn’t automatically mean I won’t blow it again.

I have to constantly stay on myself to not only keep this up, but keep taking it to higher  levels. I’m not sure if I can do that by myself. It’s working ok now, but eventually I might have to surround myself with like minded people or a personal trainer to keep improving.

I’d also be up for some kind of healthy cooking class. I can barely operate a toaster, but I don’t need to because I’m not eating bread at all. It’s mostly vegetables and salads and a little bit of broiled fish and baked chicken. Eventually, some variety would make it easier.

It’s also going to be easier to keep this up because I feel so much better on every level. I sleep better, think clearer, and the dark ugly funk of depression hasn’t taken the wind out of my sail since I don’t know when. I truly believe it was a result of how I was eating for so long, and that alone makes the thought of eating broccoli and green beans not so bad.

I’m sorry it took so long to have this hit home, but it has. Maybe I had to hit the lowest of lows so I’d appreciate how spectacular this feels. Whatever the case, I do appreciate it and hope I inspire others to make similar changes. There’s no excuse not to live healthy.

Late Bloomer Baby Boomer

September 7, 2011

Tuesday September 6th, 2011 – Milwaukee, WI

Up to Milwaukee today to run some errands. One of them was a breakfast meeting with Russ Martin to talk about booking some ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows. I still haven’t lost an interest in putting that show together, but I have lost momentum. I’ll have to start all over.

Russ is an interesting case. He’s a former Milwaukee County Sherriff’s Deputy and has just retired from a job in security at Northwestern Mutual Life, a major company in town. He gets two pensions plus his social security, and has decided to pursue comedy full time.

There are plusses and minuses to that, but at least he’s having fun. Russ has the attitude of a little kid when it comes to comedy, and he loves being around every part of it. That’s a major advantage, because it shows on stage and off. A disadvantage is he won’t have an unlimited amount of time to learn the craft like someone would starting in his early 20’s.

I had my whole life in front of me when I started, and got to grow organically. I learned as I went, and was able to squeak out a living while I did it. I’m still squeaking, but times and circumstances were a lot different. Now, guys like Russ have to go to open mic nights and wait around for stage time with disrespectful clueless punks less than half their age.

I wish someone who has never performed comedy could see and experience the insanity of the ‘new talent’ or ‘open mic’ night. It’s usually a makeshift stage setting in a bar on an off night that attracts a ‘crowd’ that consists of wannabe twenty something neurotic idiots fighting for five minutes on stage to get the attention they never got at home from daddy.

The tension is thick, and the competition for stage time and attention is fierce. Very few actual fans of comedy are usually in these places, and what ends up happening is a person ends up performing to a room full of other ‘comedians’ who are desperate for stage time.

Unfortunately, at the beginning of the journey those nights are necessary because it’s all about stage time. That’s the only way to learn the craft, by actually doing it as many times in as many places as possible. It’s like a butterfly pecking its way out of a cocoon. It’s not easy, but it’s the only way to get the strength to fly. Nature can be brutal, but it has a plan.

A huge percentage of those who go to open mics eventually drop out. Sometimes it may take a few years, but most stop doing them – either because they start getting paid work or they never do and they discover they’re just not good enough. Then there are the nut jobs.

They either don’t discover or won’t admit they aren‘t good enough, but they won‘t stop showing up. They keep trying to hang on, only because they can. If I went to try out for an NFL team, I wouldn’t be allowed to go on the field – nor should I. Comedy isn’t like that.

Russ has made it past open mics and his enthusiasm alone makes him fun to be around. I’ll help him all I can, because he’s serious about doing it. He can help me by seeking out locations to do shows, and I can help him in return with quality stage time. It’s win/win.

A Summery Summary

September 5, 2011

Sunday September 4th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

It’s time to put away the white pants for another year. Where did the summer go? It was hectic for me with all my health issues, but that seems like years ago now. I really do feel like a new and better person in every aspect of life. I’m rebooting myself and it continues.

My grandpa used to talk about how life isn’t about the mistakes someone makes, we all make those, it’s a matter of what’s done to correct them. Then, it’s about what the person does with the knowledge that came with the experiences. That’s what makes our legacy.

In my eyes, Gramps was the best. He was a combination of Yoda and Henny Youngman with his constant waterfall of wisdom wrapped in wisecracks. He was a ‘wisdomedian’. It still sticks with me, thirty years later. He’s been gone almost twice as long as I had him in my life, but I still live by many of the principles he taught me then. His influence lives on.

My father was a different story. He used to say what a rotten father Gramps was to him, and it might be true. I’ve heard tales of and seen for myself people who were mediocre or worse parents turn it around and do better with their grandchildren. They learned from the experience of being a parent and acted on it, much to the disappointment of the children.

My friend Scot Wickmann does a very funny comedy bit about taking his son to see his parents and the kid doesn’t want to eat his vegetables. His mother asks the kid if he wants some ice cream instead. Scot asks in stunned amazement where that choice was when he was a kid, and it’s a very funny routine. That’s probably because so many can relate to it.

I know for a fact Gramps tried to make it up to my father. He used to take each of us out for a weekly breakfast on separate days to get one on one time with each of us. I feel sorry for my uncle, who never worked his way into the rotation for whatever reason. That’s life.

Gramps used to speak often about how I was the mature one of the two, and he actually looked forward to meeting with me. I was barely out of high school and he said I was on a path to build myself a good life while my father used to piss and moan about everything.

It all fell apart when Gramps died. My father and I were at each other’s throats, and we never did patch it up. I made a lot of stupid mistakes, and had nobody to take over being the wise mentor Gramps was. It got me into trouble, and it’s taken years to work through the anger issues and figure things out for myself. I wish I had a ‘do over’. Don’t we all?

It took a long time, but I feel I’m starting to hit my stride. FINALLY. I’ve screwed up a lot of things, but now it all seems to be coming together at once and a functional human is emerging. The lessons learned were painful, but now they’re paying off on a daily basis.

I have to say, I think I’m actually happy. I’m not where I think I could be, but I’m on the way. I have a rich supply of quality friends and some exciting projects on the horizon and I look forward to getting up every day. I’m in good health and spirits too. That’s success.

The Luck Factor

September 4, 2011

Saturday September 3rd, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

Step by step, I’m changing my entire life around to be exactly what I want it to be. It’s a total mental and physical makeover from the ground up, and I’m the one calling the shots. I’ve been in and out of this kind of feeling before, but this is different. It’s from within.

It doesn’t mean I won’t have any bumps in the road, but I’ve had more than my share of those for years and I know how to bounce back. My time is running out, and I am putting all my eggs in one basket. I’m either going to be The King Of Uranus or a stumble bum.

This is the most consistent momentum I’ve ever had. It’s only been a couple of months, so I can’t get cocky. Had I had this kind of vision and consistency years ago, who knows where I’d be? But I didn’t. So here I am. Maybe I had to go through all the insanity I did to learn certain tough lessons I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend any other way.

What I do know is, I’m right where I’m supposed to be now. It feels right, and the past is gone. My father is dead, but more importantly so is all his influence. I’ve learned to let the bad energy go, and that’s been beyond huge in making everything else fall into place.

I’m sure that’s what makes other’s lives miserable too. I’ll bet 99% of prisoners have an issue with one or both parents, and don’t know how to let it go. Maybe it comes with age, but I don’t think it does to everyone. I’ve seen old people still pissed off about their past.

We all get dealt the cards we’re dealt, then we have to play them. I wasn’t dealt the best hand, but I’m starting to play it better than I ever have, and I know I have a chance to win. As it turns out, the game of life is solitaire. We don’t play against others – it’s ourselves.

There’s only a certain amount of blame that can be placed on others, and then it’s time to shut up and move on. I’ve FINALLY reached that point, and it wasn’t easy. There are many things I think are a legitimate gripe, but who am I going to bitch to? Nobody cares.

Knowing that, the best answer is to ignore what anyone else says or thinks and live for pleasing myself. If anyone else happens to come along, great. If not, it doesn’t bother me in the least. I’ve got all I can handle working on my own problems. That keeps me busy.

I’ve been listening to as many self help audio programs as I can recently, jam packing as much food for thought as possible into the deepest crevices of my brain. I have enough CD and tape programs to last six lifetimes, and I’m making a conscious effort to listen.

Some are better than others, but one I’ve heard years ago and am listening to again is a fantastic program by Brian Tracy called “The Luck Factor”. It talks about how we all get bad breaks, but there are ways to put ourselves in a position to have the best shot to win.

It’s been hitting me hard with all kinds of great information, and I’m letting it soak in. I’ve listened to a lot of this kind of stuff, but this is up there with the best I’ve ever heard.

Clock Teaser

September 4, 2011

Friday September 2nd, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

I haven’t had to deal with any crisis situations in a while, so it’s good to stay in practice. Today’s had the potential of doing a lot of financial damage, but I got it handled. It boiled down to a race against the clock, and I felt like I was in a scavenger hunt. I barely made it.

What happened was, my trademark application for Uranus Factory Outlet had run out as of the end of business today. Apparently I had applied for it on this day in 2008, and I had been filing for extensions every six months since then to hold the application. Apparently that can only be done for three years, and then it has to be proven that the mark is in use.

Why it boiled down to the last day I don’t know. I’ve meant to get it done for years now but life just keeps getting in the way. That’s the reason, even though it’s not an acceptable excuse. I could have done it had it been a priority, but I allowed it to rot. I’m embarrassed but also motivated because I stood to lose about $2000 I’ve invested to keep it registered.

Some other guy in Florida had filed for a trademark to use the word Uranus for pairs of ladies underwear. It was blocked pending the outcome of my application, and had I let the deadline pass, I’d have had to get back in line behind him, even though I had filed first. In a perfect world, this all would have been taken care of years go, but it wasn’t. My fault.

I needed to get a sticker or label that said ’Uranus Factory Outlet Clothing’ and put it on one of my t-shirts. Then, I had to email a picture to my trademark attorney and he then put in the paperwork to keep the trademark in my possession. It took some running around for a couple of hectic hours, but I managed to get it done with his help. It was a wake up call.

If I’m going to do this, I’ve got to DO it. No more excuses. I have to totally immerse my whole being in this project, at least part of every day. It’s not my number one priority just yet, but that’s only because it isn’t brining in any revenue. When it does, this is my career.

I am a now a mail order entrepreneur who sells funny products via a website. I’ll still do live shows, but those will be phased out more and more as the business grows. I intend to shift my focus to the internet, and my shows will be put there and used to sell my product line. It’s a similar principle of doing what I’ve been doing, but I’ll get to ease off the road.

There’s SO much to do with this, as I’m starting from ground zero. I knew that from the start, and maybe that’s why I’ve let it sit dormant this long. Maybe I was intimidated a bit then, but not anymore. This kick started me and I’m ready to launch it with all my energy.

I have to dust off everything I’ve had sitting around, and make at least a few hours each day available to keep building until money starts coming in. That actually shouldn’t be all that long, as I’ve got a lot of the groundwork laid. Jim McHugh has been a huge help too.

The main thing is, this project is FUN. It’s educational too, but I wanted to learn how to run a business and every day I learn something. Today I learned to stop procrastinating.

An Organized Mess

September 3, 2011

Thursday September 1st, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

More meetings, more new people and old ones in new roles, more progress. I’m making a lot of forward motion right now, and it‘s a thrill. My life still has major flaws that are in need of attention, but at least now it’s a mess with a direction. Before, it was just a mess.

Organization has always been difficult for me for whatever reason. It doesn’t come easy like it seems to for some people, and that’s just how it is. I’ve been in people’s house with nothing out of place, even in the garage, and wonder how they do that. I check into a hotel room and within ten minutes it looks like Van Halen was partying in it during a hurricane.

I’ve always blamed it on me being left handed, but that’s probably a lame excuse. There must be some left handed person somewhere who’s a neat freak, I just haven’t run across that person yet. I know it isn’t me. My brain is like a blender stuck on perpetual ‘puree’.

But, this is a new month in a new era of my life and I refuse to lie down and let this get the best of me. I know it’s been a problem and I know I need to work hard to improve my organizational and time management skills. Period. It won’t happen overnight, or I’d have found a way to conquer it by now. I have to take small calculated steps to turn it around.

A major reason I’m disorganized is that I’ve moved so many times. I’ve still got stuff in storage from my last move, and that’s frustrating. I haven’t had time to get to it, because I haven’t made time. Who wants to rifle through boxes of random junk? Maybe American Pickers, but not me. In a perfect world, I’d have a few clothes, my computer, and that’s it.

I love books and music and movies, but that’s all available on a computer. I’ve lost my appetite for material things. They just aren’t important. Life isn’t about that. I  remember how my grandmother used to cherish her ‘pretties’ as she used to call them, which were a collection of plates. When she died, nobody wanted them and they went to the Goodwill.

It wasn’t wrong for her to collect them, but she never enjoyed them. We never had any meals with them, they just sat there on the wall. The same with her furniture. I never got to sit on any piece of furniture in the living room until after she was in a nursing home.

I’d much rather have had Sloppy Joes on a paper plate and sat on a folding chair if we could have had fun as a family playing Monopoly or something. That never happened and now not only is she gone, so are her beloved pretties. They didn’t matter to anyone else.

I don’t have any pretties, but I do have piles of unorganized papers and books and who knows what else that need to be sorted, organized and most of it tossed. It’s just a matter of knowing what few things to save, and that’s why I have to go through it all to find out.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to just get it done and not let it get so out of hand again. I think I’m going to do it too. Everything else in my life is improving by leaps and bounds, why not this too? Why couldn’t I have been on this positive of a roll years ago?

The Evolution Of Vibe

September 3, 2011

Wednesday August 31st, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

It’s been said in many ways by many people throughout history, but life is absolutely all about vibe. No question. What goes around comes around, and every other saying that has been bantered about so loosely but seldom truly heard has legs. It’s not just random fluff.

I guess I always knew it, and deep down everyone should, but I’ve been on one big time positive roll lately and I want to claim it from the universe and embrace that vibe. If life is anything, it’s constant change, and I want to remember this feeling for future reference.

The closest definition to what ‘vibe’ means, at least to me, is the physical manifestation of the Law of Attraction. What we send out, comes back. I must have really been sending out some warped and twisted signals for a long time as judged by what I was receiving in return, but I feel it improving dramatically as of late and I like it. I’ve dialed in correctly.

I can tell, because there’s a massive change happening in the main cast of characters in my life. As my vibe changes, so do the people that surround me on a daily basis. It’s like I was traded from a losing team in sports, and this one is going to the playoffs. It’s exciting.

All kinds of new people are entering my life with large roles and those that were already there that I’m choosing to keep have their roles changing. My immediate surroundings are showing radical changes because I’M changing so much. It’s fun to see a tangible result.

One person that’s left over from the past is my comedian friend Jim McHugh. Jim and I have been friends for years, but now he’s becoming more of a personal trainer, especially when it comes to the King of Uranus idea. He’s one that really liked it from the start, and has been prodding me to pursue it since I told him about it. I’ve been delaying it too long.

Jim has a personality that really meshes well with mine, because I’m admittedly all over the place like sheep dung on a shepherd. He’s not. He zooms in on a project, and when he does, everything else goes on hold. We’re total opposites, and it‘s exactly what I need.

Jim is the one who invited me to join the Chicago Style Standups group of comedians a few years ago, and that’s where we worked together more than just doing a few gigs at the same club the way most comedians know each other. We took our business level higher.

Now he’s taking on a role of drill sergeant, but in a good way. He hops on my ass to get certain things done that need to get done, not just fart around aimlessly like I’ve done way too long. He’s in the exact right role at the exact right time, and positive results are on the board with more to come. His brother in law Mark Huelskamp is handling the website.

Tonight, Jim and I met with an artist named Jeanie Janz about t-shirt designs and other art related issues. She is a friend of a friend of his, and was on point both in her level of talent and demeanor. She fits in perfectly, and I know she can contribute to the project in a major way. Things are falling into place exactly how they’re supposed to, and I love it.